It’s a busy spring in Special Collections, so many apologies for missing a post last week! After a surprise snow storm last week, winter seems to have left us, and following a few days of apparent summer temperatures, spring seems to be settling in nicely. If you haven’t started your gardening, it may be time to get planting, whether it’s in a yard or pots on your patio. To help you along, we’re sharing Plans and Suggestions for Your Victory Garden: Presenting a Four-Act Playlet Entitled: “Grow What You Eat.”
This is one of those great items in the History of Food & Drink Collection that defies a simple categorization. It’s a great representation of the World War II “Victory for the U.S!” style of publications from this period. It addresses everyone in the ideal American family and is designed to create and motivate a family activity. And, in case you missed it, it promotes a company and a product (Planet Jr. Farm and Garden Implements and Tractors). All of these are characteristic of some of the kinds of publications in our collection, though seeing them all together isn’t quite as common. The thing that won us over in particular was the format: a four-act playlet.
With one act for each season, this pamphlet follows a family of four as Bill and Mary convince Mother and a slightly-reluctant Dad to plant a family garden. We follow the family through preparation, planting, harvesting and preserving what they don’t consume in season. The playlet extolls the time- and money-saving aspects of the family’s garden (thanks to some communal garden tools, self-sustenance, and better use of rationed foods). It also features some none-too-subtle advertising for Planet Jr. products throughout.
There are several pages at the end of the play that feature garden plans for different size plots, as well as a detailed timetable for “Growing the 41 Most Important Home Garden Vegetables” and some garden hints. The chart includes information on how much seed to buy for a family of 5, dates to plant, seed depth, space between rows, time to produce, yield per 20 feet of row, notes about each vegetable, and more! The last few pages of the pamphlet contain pictures and descriptions of Planet Jr. garden tools (mostly those mentioned in the text).
Gardens may no longer be of the “victory” kind, but home and community gardens are very popular these days. So, propaganda-esque dialogue and modern families that don’t resemble the 1940s standard aside, “Grow What You Eat” can still speak to us in the 21st century. There is a lot to be gained from a garden, whether you’re fond of veggies, looking for an excuse to work in the yard, or seeking the perfect herb for the cocktail you like to sip when the day is done. So get out there and get planting (with or without your Planet Jr. tools)–the season is just starting!